PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, and several other Pakatan Harapan lawmakers have called for the new National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan repayment scheme to be reviewed.
Anwar said many of his constituents in Port Dickson, and even in his former constituency of Permatang Pauh, have cited concerns over the new scheme, which involves scheduled salary deductions.
He further assured that he would be raising the matter directly with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"I will send a note to the prime minister asking him to review (the repayment scheme).
If there is an opinion (by the prime minister on the matter), I'm sure PTPTN chairperson Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Education Minister Maszlee Malik will review it," he told reporters at Parliament today.
Syed Saddiq, meanwhile, promised to raise PTPTN recipients' grouses during tomorrow's cabinet meeting.
He said while borrowers are still expected to repay their loans, the repayment scheme must be "fair."
"I believe that while we still must repay our loans... the payment must be fair, to help our youth, and not overly burden them, especially those who have been making their payments all this while after discussing with PTPTN, in adherence to the conditions and in a timely manner," he said in a video posted on Twitter today.
It was announced that the new repayment scheme would be enforced from January next year on borrowers whose monthly salaries were RM2,000 and above.
The percentage of monthly deductions, between two to 15 percent, will be based on each borrower's respective salary level.
Yesterday, Wan Saiful stated he was working with six agencies to obtain the relevant salary and personal details of PTPTN borrowers.
These are the Employers Provident Fund, Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia, Retirement Fund Inc, Accountant-General’s Department, Armed Forces Payroll Directorate, and the Public Service Department.
Deductions too high
In a separate statement today, PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasir said the salary deductions were too high, and called on PTPTN to delay the implementation of the scheme.
"This must also be studied based on the agreement on repayment rate agreed upon between PTPTN and the borrowers prior to this.
"This is not the first time a PTPTN announcement has caused concern, just like the initial minimum salary level for repayment being set at RM1,000, which was amended to RM2,000," he said.
Akmal added that PKR Youth will seek to meet with Wan Saiful (photo) to discuss the matter further.
The sentiment was echoed by DAP assemblypersons Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof (Dusun Tua), Young Syefura Othman (Ketari) and Lim Yi Wei (Kampung Tunku).
In a joint statement, the three stated that the new scheme would affect those who have already been consistently repaying their loans based on a different monthly repayment rate, while also failing to consider other commitments borrowers may have.
Their statement read: "The (repayment) rates being introduced is purely based on salaries. The scheme does not take into account other commitments borrowers may have, including EPF deductions, housing loans, car loans, children's education cost and others.
"In addition, many of them (borrowers) earning RM5,000 and above have families, which needs to be taken into account when determining the optimum PTPTN repayment rate."
The trio further pointed out that many borrowers in the middle-income (M40) range do not receive targeted subsidies to help cope with the high costs of living.
Additional reporting by Yasmin Ramlan